Kidney stones are unpleasant little formations in your kidneys that will eventually need to pass through and exit your body.

Not everyone will get kidney stones, but those who do may have a history of not getting enough fluids or calcium in their diet. While rumored to be painful, passing your kidney stone is necessary. What do you need to know about passing kidney stones?

They Can Come out Naturally, but Not All of Them Will

If your kidney stones are relatively small, meaning less than 5mm, they should be able to exit your body naturally. This means that the tiny stones will travel down your urethra and exit the body along with your urine. However, if your kidney stones are larger than 5mm, chances are you’ll need assistance getting them out. You may need to have surgery; Extracorporeal Shock Wave Lithotripsy (ESWL), which involves using shock waves through your body to break up the kidney stones so that they can be passed naturally; or ureteroscopy, which allows your urologist to remove the stones through your urethra via a procedure. If you have a kidney stone, your doctor will need to determine the size of it in order to recommend which treatment is best for you.

There Are Conventional Medicines as Well as Natural Remedies You Can Try

While there isn’t a medication that can magically make the kidney stone come out of your body, your doctor may prescribe an alpha blocker to help with the pain. Alpha blockers help relax your urinary tract muscles in order to allow you to pass the stone without too much pain. There are also many natural remedies you can try while attempting to pass your kidney stone:

Drink lots of water infused with citrus fruits like lemon, lime, and orange. This can help break up the stones to make passing them easier. You can do this at home—simply cut up slices of the fruit and place them in water.

Drink equal parts lemon juice and olive oil. This may help ease the stone’s passing as well as help break it up.

Apple cider vinegar. Take only a few ounces at a time mixed with water. This is also a great prevention practice!

Eat diuretic foods. Watermelon, celery, and cucumber may help pass your kidney stones. 

It Will Probably Hurt

Kidney stones are rumored to be very painful, but each person will have a different experience. Being prepared for the pain and talking with your doctor about it can help to ease your fears, and your doctor may be able to prescribe you a medication that can help with this. Depending on the size of your kidney stones, some may be more painful to pass than others, but all of them will eventually need to come out, no matter what method you and your doctor decide is best for you. 

Hydration is Key—Both for Passing and Prevention

Keeping hydrated while passing your kidney stones is crucial. The stones need to essentially be flushed out of the body, so you’ll be helping your body by taking in lots of fluids. Although water is best (or water with citrus fruits as mentioned above), some fluids are better than none. You should do your best to eliminate alcohol, coffee, tea, and soda during this time. Try to stick to water as much as possible. Dehydrating fluids like alcohol and coffee will not help you pass your kidney stone and may make the pain worse. Hydration is also vital for preventing kidney stones. Kidney stones form when there’s an excess of minerals in your kidneys but not enough fluids to dilute them. Staying hydrated is crucial to preventing kidney stone formation as well as to pass kidney stones once you have them.

Passing kidney stones is something 1 in every 10 Americans will have to do in their lifetime (source: https://www.kidney.org/news/newsroom/factsheets/FastFacts). Knowing what to expect for passing your kidney stones is important, but prevention and good health year round can help you to avoid kidney stones altogether. Talk with your urologist today about passing your kidney stones.